Watford have serious problems defensively, as three of their best back four are ruled out this weekend. Holebas’ ban is a particular issue as there is no natural left back cover available, likely meaning Britos has to play out of position, which is a big weakening. In midfield and attacking lines they look set to remain unchanged, but Pereyra is still a notable absentee. Having taken 4 points so far, Watford are in good spirits coming into this game and will genuinely feel they are capable of beating Brighton. Poor defensive team news is a concern, but overall the -0.5 handicap looks fair given the overall strength of the team. A draw isn’t a disaster and keeps them unbeaten, but at home, they’d be a little disappointed to drop points, but it won’t be easy to win. Facing a team who are yet to score this season, Watford will be aiming for a quick start with the intent of establishing a lead. Scoring first would see them become more cautious and defensive, but leaning on a makeshift defense could be a bit of a gamble. The 2.25 total goals line is appropriate, as it could be a clash settled by fine margins, as from behind Watford may struggle to get a win.
Brighton have very good team news, as aside from Kayal and Brown, who are being very well covered for, they can count themselves at full strength. Murray has overcome an ankle problem and should start, while Knockaert is also poised to begin out wide having stepped up his return to full fitness midweek. New signing Izquierdo will be part of the squad, however, it’s likely he only makes the bench. More than anything in this game, Brighton will feel they need to get a point to avoid going into the international break empty handed. This is their softest game so far but is by no means an easy challenge, as evidenced with a +0.5 handicap. They’ll set up to play on the break and would be happy with a point, having been reasonably secure defensively so far, but their attacking output is a concern Confidence could start to wane if they go behind, as they’re yet to score in the Premier League. They have better team news going forward this week and will feel they can hurt Watford out wide, but providing proper service into the forwards will be key to overcoming a 2.25 goal line. If they find themselves chasing things could become a bit more open, but a really high scoring clash doesn’t suit.
Verdict & Prediction
The mood around Watford is generally very good, though their excellent league start took a hit midweek with a poor defeat in the League Cup to Bristol City. They’ll be hungry to bounce back at the first attempt and remain unbeaten going into the international break, with this their softest game yet. Having taken points against stronger opponents, they’ll find themselves as favorites for the first time this season and would be very disappointed not to take all three points. There’s increased expectation, so they can’t afford any complacency, and will only be pleased with a win.
Prediction: Watford -0.50 Asian Handicap (same as Watford to win)
Odds: 2.14 Pinnacle